Listening well

April 6, 2020

Scripture Readings

I came across a reading called, “Don’t Just” that included these thoughts:

Don’t just learn, experience.

Don’t just read, absorb.

Don’t just promise, prove.

Don’t just criticize, encourage.

Don’t just think, ponder.

Don’t just dream, do.

Don’t just hear, listen.

Don’t just talk, act.

Don’t just tell, show.

Don’t just exist, live.

All good truths to absorb and ponder, but the one that captured me was “don’t just hear, listen.” Every once in a while, like twice in our marriage, Joyce will suggest to me I’m not listening to her, and I’ll foolishly try to restate what she’s said to me. The reality is that I may have heard what she said, but I really wasn’t listening intently. It’s hurtful when I fail to listen well.  

It’s just as damaging to our souls when we fail to listen well to God. Three times in three verses in Proverbs, we are exhorted to listen (Prov. 8:32-34). I often say that we are such a distractible people living in such a distracting world. It is imperative we learn to listen well. I realized today that the letters required to write the word “listen” are the same words to spell the word “silent.” We need to learn to be alone with God that we might learn to listen to him, amidst all the competing voices for our attention and allegiance.

Luke 11 connects prayer with listening – you can’t have one without the other. He reminds us that our God is a good Father who blesses his children. The most noted blessing in v13 is the promised Holy Spirit, who enables us to both “hear the Word of God” and to apply it to our daily lives (Luke 11:28).

Deuteronomy 4 reminds us that God is both “jealous” and “merciful.” May we, “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and earth below. There is no other.” (Deut. 4:39). Good things happen in and through our lives when we embrace his truth.  

Winston Churchill wrote that “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” May we find courage today to stop doing and start listening, inviting God to speak into our stories and journeys. In this COVID-19 world and all its distractions, taking time to listen might well be the most significant thing we can do today. It’s tragic what happens in our lives when we learn to listen to fear and fail to listen to God. Let’s be fantastic listeners to God this week of Passion as we make our way to Easter.  

Ian Trigg

Pastor and fellow sojourner on the journey of listening to God.